Teaching to Generation Z
Generation Z includes anyone born after 2000. Although they haven’t been around long and we’re still learning how this generation acts as a whole, they’re developing common traits. Generation Z is who the majority of our students will be in the next few years, so as educators we need to be prepared how to teach them.
I also should mention that as our nation becomes more politically correct, what once was accepted (or was even flirting with inappropriate) is NOT tolerated with this generation. Meaning, if you say something wrong in the classroom, they’ll tweet it and you’ll be fired. Gone are the days of second chances and sorrowful apologies.
In 2006, there were a record number of births in the US and 49% of those born were Hispanic. Since the early 1700’s, the most common last name in the US was Smith. Today it’s Rodriguez. This means that racist, generalized comments like, “This is America, learn English,” will get you in all sorts of trouble. You need to understand the “melting pot” that Generation Z is and you need to ensure that your teaching is inclusive and kind.
I have a lot more material that I cover in my full Generational Teaching program, but here’s a quick breakdown of common characteristics and how to deal with challenging situations.
- Technology isn’t technology to them (because they’ve always had it)
- Every kid gets a trophy in their little league games
- More entrepreneurial – all want to own a business
- Prefers to meet with managers in person
- Values honesty more than any other characteristic
- Wants to be part of the conversation, decision making and they want to change the world.
- Short attention span
- Learn by being entertained
- Constantly stimulated by screens
CHALLENGE: Attention span is eight seconds.
WHAT TO DO: Dynamic openers are crucial.
CHALLENGE: Really high (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations (i.e. own a business and change the world)
WHAT TO DO: Show them the means to the end. Give them realistic expectations while encouraging that that’s a great END result.
CHALLENGE: Everyone gets a trophy, leading to entitled students who think they always deserve an award.
WHAT TO DO: Verbal praise. Find a cheap item (ribbons, etc.), reward system.
CHALLENGE: Honesty is everything.
WHAT TO DO: Be honest ALL the time. You can’t give them fluff responses or encouraging words that are empty.
Never underestimate the power of an educator!